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Protecting your networks and devices is vital if you want to prevent bad actors from accessing your medical information, financial details, and other sensitive data. Identity theft is a common outcome of data breaches, where cyber criminals use your credit card information or Social Security Number to commit fraud.
Data breaches are also devastating for businesses. An organization’s network may have trade secrets and sensitive data about clients and staff, and you may suffer the loss of consumer trust after a cyber-attack. Hence, businesses should protect both structured and unstructured data to avoid the revenue and confidence losses associated with data breaches.
Many people assume that data protection involves complex and technical tasks. However, there are simple ways to protect sensitive data.
1. Strengthen Your Passwords to Protect Your Data
Use long passwords with random words and phrases unrelated to your personal information to secure devices and browse sites. Don’t write passwords on sticky notes to be hidden under your keyboard, as you make it easier for hackers to view your information.
Instead, upload your passwords to a password manager, which helps you track multiple passwords. You don’t have to make passwords memorable with such a tool.
2. Update Software Promptly
Software companies regularly release security patches and updates to counter the latest cyber security practices. By installing software updates as soon as they are available, you keep your system updated on current security developments. Cyber attackers continuously change their tactics, and outdated software is particularly vulnerable to data breaches.
Some organizations automate these updates because employees often forget to update software. So, check with your IT department to keep your networks and devices up-to-date.
3. Encrypt Data
Encryption involves converting data to incomprehensible text using a secret key. Only people with the secret code can decode the message, meaning that cybercriminals have no use for your information if they access it. In addition to protecting computer information, encryption prevents unauthorized people from reading your emails and messages.
Common computer applications like Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Office allow users to encrypt individual files, while free mobile apps like WhatsApp encrypt user data. You can also encrypt flash and USB drives with disc encryption tools and Encrypting File System (EFS).
4. Be Wary Of Public Wi-Fi Networks
Public wireless hotspots in restaurants, airports, train stations, and other public areas are convenient but not always secure. Hackers often intercept data traveling via public networks, and you shouldn’t shop, enter banking information or work with sensitive information. If you must use public Wi-Fi hotspots, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which masks your online identity and keeps your information private.
5. Back Up Data Carefully
A data backup saves the day when malicious attacks destroy or erase the data on your devices or network. During ransomware attacks, cybercriminals ask for ransom in exchange for the victim’s important files. So, backup your data regularly to a secure cloud service or an external hard drive, or both.
6. Restrict Access To Mobile Apps
Mobile applications are more sophisticated than ever, allowing people to bank, shop, make medical appointments, and do other activities. But, a bad actor who gets access to your phone can derive personal data from such applications. In addition to locking your device, place a passcode on your apps to prevent critical contents from falling into the wrong hands.
7. Disable Push Notifications
Most mobile apps post updates on your Home Screen, so you don’t miss appointments or promotions. Review these notifications to ensure they don’t display personal data on the lock screen. Additionally, disable social media content, emails, and text messages from appearing on the lock screen to ward off prying eyes.
You don’t need extensive cyber security knowledge to protect your data from cyber-attacks or loss. Simply back up your data to secure cloud services, lock your phone and apps, avoid public hotspots, update software, and use strong passwords.